TCQ&A: Joya Dass

The TCQ&A rules: You can choose which of 45 questions you’d like to answer, but you have to answer #1–4 (and at least 15 total). Portrait by Aaron Pachesa (courtesy Joya Dass).

1. How long have you lived in the area? Where did you move from? Where are you originally from? I’m born to parents who emigrated to the U.S. from India in 1969, which makes me first-generation. They settled in Central Pennsylvania, which was home to some 4,000 Indian families over the years. Got my M.A. in journalism from Boston University and moved to New York City for an internship with “NBC Nightly News,” and haven’t left. That was 1997.

2. Married? Partnered? If so, what’s his/her name and occupation? Single but dating someone exclusively.

3. Kids? Pets? No kids or pets but I hope to have two kids and a little terrier.

4. Where do you live? For the 15 years I’ve lived here, I’ve lived uptown, but worked downtown. As a business news reporter, I’m generally “live” from Wall Street. Now I’m spending even more of my waking (and sleeping!) hours in Tribeca because I’m dating a gentleman who owns two businesses on Beach Street. Tribeca and the Financial District are my home away from home.

5. What do you do for a living? I am a business news anchor by trade. For four years, New Yorkers knew me from the morning news on “Channel 7 Eyewitness News.” (Someone once wrote me on my Facebook page that they named their kid after me because they watched every morning through their pregnancy.) Now I deliver the hourly reports on the markets from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for NY1 on a freelance basis. I also host a popular Saturday-morning show called “AVS” on WMBC that centers on all the music, food, and fashion of the Indian community. In the last two years, I took a team to India and shot and directed my first documentary. First Sight is about curable blindness in children. I was lucky to have an experienced New York team to help bring it into the finish line. It features beautiful cinematography by Marcelo Bukin and fresh new music by Sivamani and Falu, who is a regular on the New York music scene. The next screening is March 22 at the Tribeca Screening Room in Tribeca Film Center. You can watch the trailer at

6. The best deal around: Hands down, the best deal is happy hour at Flor De Sol: $3 tapas specials and $6 drinks from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. I taste-test tortilla española at every Spanish restaurant I visit. Flor de Sol’s is very potato-y, which is a good thing.

7. Most-frequented restaurants: This is always a tough question to ask a gal like me, who practically eats out as a second job. I love Gigino Trattoria for Italian, especially in warm weather when the doors are open to the sidewalk. La Ripaille for French. Flor de Sol for Spanish tapas.

8. For special occasions, I go to: River Café in Brooklyn for Valentine’s Day was magical. But definitely L’Ecole, the restaurant arm of the French Culinary Institute. They have condensed their prix-fixe menu from five courses to about three now. But with the wine pairing, it’s the most exquisite meal. A dynamic menu prepared by the students, and it promises not to break the bank.

9. Best sandwich: The shrimp fajita wrap on a tomato tortilla with alfalfa sprouts from Beach Street Eatery.

10. Sweet-tooth satisfaction: Run, don’t walk to try the smores soufflé at One if by Land, Two if by Sea. And the banana tart with malted chocolate pecan ice cream at Tribeca Grill. My poor date didn’t even get a bite.

11. Most delicious cocktail: Mango cosmopolitan at Tamarind Tribeca. A mango lassi with a kick for this little Indian.

13. I can’t resist popping into: Bubby’s for wild Maine blueberry pancakes at 2 a.m. But given my profession and metabolism, I try very hard not to.

15. When I walk into my apartment, the first thing I see that I bought in Tribeca is: The gentleman I’m dating is in the flower business, so the first thing I see and smell when I walk into my apartment are gorgeous Japanese paperwhites or roses with eucalyptus berries from Floratech.

17. How I stay fit: Hot power vinyasa yoga and running outside.

18. Where I get beautiful: Hands down, and I mean it, Eden Day Spa on Broadway [left]. A girlfriend of mine introduced me to this glorious spa years ago. And now we celebrate at least one or two birthdays there every year. Patrons get to lounge in a little garden after their treatments, rather than being immediately thrust out into busy Manhattan streets. Eden Day Spa also throws in a free lunch with any treatment over $100. Tuna sandwiches. Salads. Fruit. Totally healthy.

20. A recent enthusiasm: Chicken hearts at Churrascaria Tribeca. Most people assume that I must be vegetarian because I’m Indian. This should dispel that notion.

22. A recent case of sticker shock: Being a first time filmmaker, the cost of sound-mixing and color-correcting a film.

27. I’ve never been to Odeon for brunch and I don’t know why.

29. How does the antique store Urban Archaeology stay in business?

30. I tend to take out-of-towners to: Cercle Rouge. It’s New York enough and chic, but still offers things that friends visiting from Pennsylvania will like: burgers, fries, wine.

31. I wish I lived in…. Oh man. I just did the Friends of Duane Park’s annual loft tour of Tribeca residences this past summer. The lofts above Bouley are amazing. Homey in a Park City, Utah, way, not typically Tribeca industrial.

32. My very favorite spot: Currently, I’m on a tour of Scotland, specifically through the Islay region of Scotland known for its big peaty mossy single malts. I love saddling up to the bar at Brandy Library, and ticking off everything I’ve already had from their never-ending menu, and asking for something new….

33. Pet peeve: Dirty public restrooms. Drives me bananas.

34. If money were no object, I’d buy my loft on Duane Street and then travel the world. Buenos Aires and Patagonia. Bali. Istanbul. Nice and Bordeaux. Lake Como. Rajasthan. Arizona.

37: A Tribeca celebrity I’d like to run into: Christy Turlington. She’s beautiful.

38. The most romantic spot around: The little tucked-away former carriage house Smith & Mills. Love the lighting. Love that it only seats like 20 people.

39. Tribeca could use more grocery stores and fewer restaurants.

40. If I could change one thing about the neighborhood: More mom-and-pop grocery stores.

42: My best Tribeca story: I was at a raging party uptown somewhere, and I really wanted to see this Bengali film that was playing at Tribeca Cinemas as part of the New York Indian Film Festival. It’s not often that I get to hear my native language, and I grab every chance I can to immerse myself in it. On a Friday, at 10 p.m., not one friend was interested in hunkering down for some esoteric documentary about the evolution of Bengali folk song. So I went on my own. I remember making conversation with the gentlemen who sat in my row and going to Cercle Rouge afterward. We’re still friends today. It was one of my more spontaneous and very fun moments!

44. Someone who lives here who I really think you should meet: Bedside manner is something I’m very big on. I don’t care if you’re my lawyer, my dermatologist, or the person who delivers my laundry. How you treat people always sticks. Come meet Eugene Schafer [left] who started his sports rehab and fitness facility ARC Athletics a few months ago at 5 Harrison. He’s from Indiana, and that great positive Midwestern attitude separates him from most, especially in like New York City. I’ve known him since 2001, when he first worked in Harlem. Book a private personal training session. I promise, his kettle-bell workout will hurt—in a good way.

45. Proof that change is good: I was a reporter for CNN when 9/11 happened. Every day, after hair and makeup, my car service would wind down the streets of Manhattan to the New York Stock Exchange. And every day, I saw the metal frames, withered and twisting up from the ground, from the space that once was the Twin Towers. In those daily drives, I witnessed the evolution of Tribeca and beyond. When my cousins came to visit last summer from India, I mused, “This area is so different now” as I fast-forwarded through the images in my head—like a cartoon flip book. It’s amazing to see all the residences, restaurants, and boutiques that have cropped up. Change is good.

46. If I couldn’t live here, I’d live in… Malaga, Spain.

47. I wish you had asked me about: I want my next documentary to be about women’s economic empowerment. Growing up in a traditional Indian family, it’s a really important subject to me.

Recent TCQ&As:
George Carroll
Dana Mass
Stephen Dimmick
Meghan Farrell
Yasmine Karrenberg

If you want to suggest a TCQ&A subject, email


1 Comment

  1. I have been listening to Joya on AVS for years. I was thrilled to see her on Eyewitness News, during my daily morning workout. Good reading about her. I did meet her once at a wedding.
    As for women’s economic empowerment, I agree with her as it is my pet peeve too. I believe not just economic empowerment but women’s empowerment in general needs to be a noteworthy subject. having been in corp. America for over 30 years (ahem, gave away my age, did I?), I see an immense need for it. I am proud of the immense effort my daughter (a first gen in the USA) is doing about it. I have a vision to empower women not just in the Indian community but in general as it seems to be lacking all around! I do my bit towards this one drop at a time!